What is this KeepItPlayful Movement all about ?


Explaining the KeepItPlayful Movement at the Bushin Martial Arts Academy in Williamsburg VA

When I say “keepitplayful” it is often misunderstood. Here is some insight into the movement… 

When it comes time to spar, I believe that we naturally fight for the dominate position and the submission. And at all costs avoiding inferior positions where we are on the defensive and more uncomfortable.

If you watch me roll I do what I call “keepitplayful.” I might work for the dominant position but as soon or before it is established I allow myself to get into an inferior position. I also allow my training partner to go for a submission and depending on how I feel I either attempt to defend the submission early, at the half way point or late. I risk being stuck in an inferior position or getting tapped out.  I’m okay with this because the information that I collect from experiencing jiu-jitsu this way is different. Due to the KeepItPlayful approach I am less concerned with “winning” and instead looking to create / allow movement while observing my partners jiu-jitsu and therefore creating a greater understanding. If you allow yourself to spend time in all positions you build comfort in all positions, and if you do this, you win.

So, I guess I am very concerned with “winning” it’s just that my definition of winning is being comfortable in every position. 

I #KeepItPlayful 80% of my sparring #KeepItReal 20% 


About KeepItPlayful

I keep it playful for a living.
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17 Responses to What is this KeepItPlayful Movement all about ?

  1. John Judd says:

    I’m completely with you brother. Thank you so much for your insight and guidance.

  2. mmafreak says:

    Great post! I do think that the more relaxed and open one is the more opportunities one has. For me, submissions and positions usually appear when I am the most relaxed and willing to tap into the moment rather than trying to make something happen. I am still proactive mentally but just relaxed. I think this comes from confidence, repetition and being secure in my inner self. It’s amazing how one’s mentality effects their martial arts competency.

  3. Julio says:

    I really understand this concept, and it´s beautiful when you start to keep it playful …

  4. Arman Fathi says:

    I thought your discussion with Kron at HEL100 regarding KeepItPlayful, while somewhat contentious, was intriguing and in a way, necessary. My dedication to the movement notwithstanding, he made a fair point when he said that a lifetime of training for you (Ryron, or any black belt training for 10, 15+ years) garners you the luxury of allowing yourself to keep it playful, i.e. making a very conscious decision in the mindset of which you regularly train. This, of course, is in contrast to Kron’s competition mentality, which he deemed, as I distinctly recall, “a living nightmare.” He made the point that you having been through the positions so many times grants you the privilege of allowing yourself to intentionally “not win” so that your students could grow. You agreed, stating that your learning curve might be different than a blue belt or a purple belt. Through my eyes, the KeepItPlayful movement is about primarily one objective (that you did not explicitly mention at the time but I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t disagree with): it’s about training in a manner that allows you to stay on the mats until you’re in your 90’s and beyond. The ancillary benefits are numerous: less injuries, more exploration, more dialogue, less ego, more movement, more fun, more learning (since you allow yourself to feel your opponents movements, to better see if you or they have any openings) and more friends (since you’re not smashing everyone). This doesn’t mean that we don’t ‘Keep it real’ from time to time, but that we just aren’t committed to that lifestyle of training. I’ve bumped it up a few notches for tournaments and have had some success. Lately, I’ve also cranked it up for teammates that are looking to compete and be pushed hard. But beyond that, why would I ever want my daily passion, the one thing I do every day that invariably makes me a happier/healthier person every time I walk out, to be ‘a living nightmare?’ Regarding Kron’s comments, to say that you need to be a black belt to KeepItPlayful, I feel, is a little unfair. I feel that in many ways, KeepItPlayful is the anti-thesis to the competition mentality that has all but encompassed a sect of the jiujitsu community. In reality, everyone in life is responsible for making their own decisions e.g. what they eat, who they talk to, how they act, etc. etc. Choosing to KeepItPlayful is simply choosing a way to live your life on-the-mat. It doesn’t mean you can’t compete and it doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself. Speaking strictly from my own experience, if KeepItPlayful hadn’t been created and it wasn’t in the front of my mind every time I train, then I would’ve quit months ago. Instead, I get sad every time I have to leave the academy. That, to me, is winning.

  5. Luiz says:

    @Arman Fathi I think that if the person does not care about being smashed in the gym everyday its very profitable for him to keep it playful, even as a white belt… because then his game will be built over tecnique and not over strenght. It takes serious strenght of mind to do it though…
    Mestre Ryron, if you think it’s appropriate, would you post something about keeping it playful on the lower belts? Specifically whites and early blues when the tecniques are not really there yet.. It would be deeply appreciated…
    Thank you
    Luiz – Curitiba / Brasil

  6. Pingback: Jiu Jiu's BJJ Blog – BJJ: One Up-manship

  7. Fantastico articulo…es una gran ayuda para entender el sparring en Jiu Jitsu.

  8. Andrew says:

    Professor Ryron, my height is just 5 feet 3 inches and my weight is 115 lbs. Almost always that I’m outweighed for at least 20 lbs. So every sparring, I always end up in the inferior positions and be trapped in there. After several times of reading and hearing all your insights here in keepitplayful.com, Gracie University and Youtube, I made my game 35% Defense, 25% Escape, 25% Control and 15% Attack…So, every time I’m in the inferior positions, I relax my entire body, breathe and focus on neutralizing their weight and attacks instead of exerting myself to escape because safety and energy conservation are my top priorities. It never mattered to me how long I’d be in the inferior positions because I believe Time is with me. My opponents will eventually get Frustrated and Exhausted. I’ll then keep moving forward and take advantage of their weakened state. And it is already my pleasure if we end up “Draw” and submitting them is just a Bonus, if ever I do. I’m just a small guy. There’s less to no expectation for me to win, but there’s a demand for me to survive. It’s almost impossible for a rabbit to kill a lion, but it is possible that a rabbit can survive from it. 😉

    Although my Survival Way is mostly misunderstood by many, but it’s okay with me. I know that most people Love the dominant positions and finishing their opponents because they feel good with themselves if they are the Predator. Because of that culture, the beauty of Survival is almost invisible to the eyes of the many.

    I’m posting this because I need to hear your thought on this. Thank you, Professor Ryron.

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